What makes a better media center?

Discussion in 'Console Games' started by GFLPraxis, Oct 15, 2009.

  1. GFLPraxis macrumors 604

    GFLPraxis

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2004
    #1
    I'm considering getting an XBox 360 or a PS3 as a media center to use with my Mac, in lieu of an Apple TV, primarily for streaming video.

    Can anyone give me a rundown of pros and cons?

    I will require WiFi, and would like DivX playback (which I believe both have?) though most of my library is in MPEG-4 for my iPod anyway.

    I'm leaning towards the PS3, since A) It's cheaper (considering $99 for a WiFi adapter, and XBox Live costs), B) I'd probably pick up a used one with backwards compatibility and shove the PS2 back in the closet, C) I can slap a 500 GB hard drive in it, and D) It has Blu-ray.


    But basically, I want to know things that aren't listed on the spec sheet.

    1) How well do they work with Macs (assuming I buy the third party software that is out there for it)?

    2) How well does streaming media actually work compared to putting it on the local hard drive (i.e. do I want a big hard drive, or should I just stream everything? I only have 802.11g, no N.)?

    3) How do the interfaces compare?

    + any other information that you guys can impart.

    Thanks for any help.
     
  2. apfhex macrumors 68030

    apfhex

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2006
    Location:
    Northern California
    #2
    Can't speak for the PS3 but as for the Xbox,

    • Only concerning media playback, Live Gold service is only necessary if you want Netflix (which for about $45 a year isn't bad).
    • You could get a non-MS wifi adapter for cheaper I think. I just use ethernet.
    • Divx playback is good and it can handle AVIs with AC3 5.1 audio (but not MP4s with AC3 or AAC 5.1). Handbreak's Xbox 360 profile makes fairly good looking video. Though most of the video files I end up with these days come in MKV, using codecs the 360 can't handle (especially if there are subtitles in ASS - ugh), and it's just too much of a hassle to convert them. Since your library is mostly iPod-ready MP4 then I think you will have no problems.
    • Using Connect 360 or Rivet, Mac integration is good.
    • I don't think you actually can transfer files to the HDD besides downloading them from the Live Marketplace, so you will be streaming most things.
    • Although some 360 models have a noisy disc drive, DVD playback is otherwise excellent. Video quality is surprisingly nice. The HD up-conversion (I run it at 1080i through HDMI, my TV doesn't support 1080p, and video looked kind of weird in 720p) is way better than the up-converting DVD player I used before getting a 360. It's so good looking in fact that I'm in no hurry to get a Blu-ray player (I will probably end up with a PS3 someday anyhow).

    Oh, and you'll definitely want a media remote for either system. At least on the 360, the controller will shut off after a period of inactivity and it's extremely annoying to have to wait for it to reconnect if you just want to pause the video, etc. MS has a simple remote for like $20 that's absolutely worth it.
     
  3. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603

    GimmeSlack12

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #3
    I use Connect360 ($20) with my Xbox and my Mac. I have my Xbox wired to my router since my unit doesn't have WiFi on it.
    Works beautifully.

    I have had a little bit of lag, but it rarely happens and generally only when you first start a movie (I'm sure it's buffering or what not).

    The interface is fast and straight forward. I got an Xbox cause I think the games are better for it, although it's a moot point since PS3 has a lot of the same titles.

    I would totally recommend getting an Xbox for use as a media console. Though I'm not saying don't get a PS3, but rather I don't have one to say either way.
     
  4. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #4
    I have PS3 and PS3 Media Server (free) in my iMac. PS3 Media Server is awesome app, it has live encoding (so if you have eg .mkv file, you don't have to covert it before streaming it, PS3MS does it when you're streaming it!) and it plays 1080p fine. I like PS3 because it has Blu-Ray, noiseless and PSN is free + HD is easily replaceable.
     
  5. GFLPraxis thread starter macrumors 604

    GFLPraxis

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2004
    #5
    Will any of the stuff I've handbrake'd for my iPod or iPhone be AC3 or AAC 5.1? I've never changed the audio settings from default, nor used any of the templates; just picked the video settings and bitrates I wanted.



    Can PS3 Media Server grab your iTunes library? And how does it compare to MediaLink?
     
  6. apfhex macrumors 68030

    apfhex

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2006
    Location:
    Northern California
    #6
    Almost certainly they'll be stereo AAC or MP3. Same goes for the Xbox preset. Edit: OH, you didn't use the presets. I think Handbreak defaults to that, though.
     
  7. soldierblue macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
  8. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #8
    I've never used MediaLink but it serves my needs perfectly and it's free plus it's Java based so it works in Windows, Linux and Mac without problems. Stuff bought from iTunes may not work due copyright things but songs I've torrented or ripped from CD works flawlessly and so do movies
     
  9. GFLPraxis thread starter macrumors 604

    GFLPraxis

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2004
    #9
    I mean, will the software grab the music/movies from my iTunes library (assuming the non-DRM'd files only)? Or will I have to reorganize in a directory structure?
     
  10. MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Location:
    Ireland
    #10
    MediaLink is excellent and likewise Connect360 and both offer similar parity.

    You already seem content with PS3 from your OP and have outlined your reasoning so I fail to see any reason to defer you.

    :)
     

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